It is all out efforts to rescue Jet Airways and keep it afloat with options like the main lender SBI even asking beleaguered airline chairman Naresh Goyal and three fellow directors to step down from the board.
Jet going to bankruptcy would mean around 23,000 people in the airline losing jobs, which the government would not entertain as the election campaign is getting into full mode. The Government has reportedly asked low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd to consider taking over some of the grounded aircraft, people with knowledge of the matter said.
What was vital at the moment was infusing funds into the carrier and main lender SBI is learned to have mooted allotting the debt of lenders as equity at Rs 10 per share for the 11,40,00,000 shares. This would mean lenders becoming the largest shareholders in the company.
The fundamentals of the airline were assessed to intact and some funding should help in its revival, was the analysis. The lead lender also signalled it was unlikely to pick up the 24 per cent stake of Etihad in Jet.
Experts see the SBI moves as 'backdoor entry' for the government, and the Opposition parties have latched on to the Jet's predicament and a senior Congress leader said private players would walk away happily and the government and other PSU banks would be left to run a bankrupt private airline.
The carrier’s troubles mounted as dues against payments owed to passengers after cancelled flights zoomed to about Rs 3,500 crore. Jet was now operating 150 flights daily from 450 at full capacity. Unable to pay lessors, Jet now has 35 planes from 119 and more were at risk of being grounded.
Pilots, who have threatened a strike from April 1, were said to have approached SpiceJet seeking employment. Several of them attended interviews. SpiceJet has a major problem on hand after its 12 Boeing Max planes remained grounded after the crash of an Ethiopian Airline plane early this month.